Half a decade ago, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history dumped 172 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 rig workers, ravaging the land and obliterating the wildlife. Now, another company is set to drill in almost the exact same spot.
But BP, the energy giant responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, isn’t the culprit this time.
Federal records obtained by the AP revealed this week that Louisiana-based LLOG Exploration Offshore LLC plans to drill into the Macondo reservoir, right by the site of the colossal 2010 spill. A spokesperson for the oil company told AP that its goal is “not allow such an event to occur again.” But critics have expressed fears that as a smaller company, LLOG is far less equipped to handle a disaster if something were to go wrong again in the sensitive Gulf ecosystem.
While oil prospectors scramble to get ahold of the Gulf’s rich resources, the local ecosystem is still recovering from a near fatal catastrophe. According to the National Wildlife Federation, some 8,000 animals, many of them endangered, were found dead or injured in the six months after the spill. The oil affected sea turtles, fish, corals and countless sea birds. Five years later, dolphins off the coast of Louisiana were still dying at four times their historic rate.
And the oil isn’t gone, either. A whopping 10 million gallons of “missing oil” was found at the bottom of the sea floor earlier this year. Because small fish and other animals can ingest the oil and are then eaten by larger animals, the oil is likely to make it all the way up the food chain. One scientist called it “a conduit for contamination into the food web.”
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Despite all of these problems, a permit allowing the company to drill deep into the ocean’s floor in search of oil was approved on April 13 by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. LLOG plans to begin drilling into the Macondo reservoir by June, ignoring the fact that the vulnerable habitat is still recovering from the last time an oil company visited.